Friday, April 19, 2013

US Air Force P3/P4 flyer's helmet


Chuck Yeager is many iconic things, including the man who first broke the sound barrier.

 Hold that thought.

Here is the USAF P3/P4 helmet I acquired in 1985 at a flea-market in Western Michigan.

The typical "fighter jock" profile with the cool USAAF winged star insignia.

A garden variety and altogether unremarkable helmet.

 Many years ago I was lounging around my Grand Rapids Michigan bachelor pad when my phone rang.  A girlfiend called to let me know that Chuck Yeager was at the local airport for an air show appearance.

I almost instantly grabbed the helmet and a Sharpie went out the door and turned my Chevy Citation in the direction of the airport.  Upon arriving at the airport I had my eyes peeled for the General.  I was very familiar with what he looked like as he had been doing lots of celebrity endorsement commercials for AC sparkplugs at the time.

I saw him among a gaggle of admirers, I uncapped my Sharpie and waited for my moment.

"General Yeager would you be so kind as to autograph my helmet?"  I asked with Sharpie and helmet extended...

 and he did.

Suddenly my helmet wasn't so unremarkable anymore.

That's the cool part, now comes the walk-around

This fixture attached with rugged stitching to the shell is some sort of electronic component, perhaps where the earphones are jacked-in.

 Twenty years in a West Michigan barn wasn't kind to the leather.

Always a very cool insignia.

The chinstrap is pretty straightforward with a snap fastner and...

a chamois-leather padding, also showing its age.

The winged star insignia is repeated on the leather padding in the crown of the helmet.

Again you can see how the years of neglect have taken a toll on the leather

The suspension and electronics are quite complete as are the leather tabs where the oxygen mask snaps into place.

The helmet is well marked with this nomenclature label sewn to the suspension...

and this manufacturers label pasted to the inside of the shell.

The lacing that snakes in and out of the shell supports the suspension within, and the larger canvass band has a lace-up gusset inside to adjust the fit of the helmet.

All in all a nice addition to the collection.

 Chuck Yeager: real American hero...

John Wayne: fake American hero...

and me, your hero.

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